EOTech Optics – History and Review
There are only a select number of firearms whose silhouette are immediately recognizable, and even fewer accessories with such a reputation, and EOTech optics and holographic weapon sights (HWS) certainly fits the criteria.
A Storied History of EOTech
The history of EOTech optics can be traced back to the Environmental Research Institute of Michigan, which invented laser holography in the early 1960s, and designed a prototype sight for gunships in the 1970s.
With this storied past in mind, EOTech patented their design for a Holographic Weapon Sight in 1992 and went to market in 1995 with Bushnell as a partner. The first generation, and those that followed, drew inspiration from fighter jets and their Heads-up Display. Fast forward to 2020, and the EOTech has been utilized by the military for 15 years and is one of the most popular choices for the civilian marketplace as well. Again, their iconic profile can be found in every medium of pop culture, from movies to video games, and they are instantly recognizable to even laymen in the community.
Understanding the Difference Between a Holographic Sight & a Red Dot
While both a holographic optic and a red dot sight look similar at first glance, how that reticle is emitted is very different. Red dot sights use a LED emitter to project a beam towards a front glass. That glass is coated, which reflects the beam (in the shape of a dot or whatever reticle) back towards the shooter.
A holographic sight is relatively more complex. The sight houses a series of mirrors and a laser to project a hologram back towards you while making it appear to float towards the front of the sight. As red dots are less complicated, they typically beat out holographic sights in battery life. However, holographic sights typically are much more durable and have less pixilation for those with astigmatisms.
Parallax, Red Dots, & Eotech Optics
Optics, like an EOTech, are a great benefit to the shooter. One can get on target faster and clearer than one can with iron sights or a magnified scope.
This problem is known as parallax, or the tendency for the reticle to seem to be moving in relation to the target while the shooter’s eye or face moves. This issue is more prevalent when engaging targets that are closer in range, and can happen more with red dot optics. Holographic sights like the Eotech used a laser emitter and an etched reticle. This significantly reduces the problems of parallax. This, combined with their large field of view makes the Eotech optic a fantastic option for your home defense carbine.
EOTech’s optic reticle is equally as classic as their sight’s profile and has been replicated time and time again. However, their popularity in pop culture has set unrealistic expectations for reality. In games like the Call of Duty franchise, for instance, the “holographic sights,” clearly modeled after the EOTech, have crisp and easy-to-pick-up reticles. In real life, many new users will say that the first thing they notice about the EOTech reticle is that it looks pixelated. This is actually something that is done intentionally, as the point of focus is significantly further out, so when a magnifier is placed behind the optic, it will become very crisp and clear. The “pixelation” is also an issue if you focus on the reticle itself rather than your target or front sight post (if you have a fixed iron or rail-mounted). It will definitely behoove you to practice rapid sight acquisition within the home to become comfortable with this. Frankly, the dry fire of this nature is something we strongly recommend to always familiarize yourself with new equipment—now more than ever due to the current ammo shortages.
The XPS2 features the “0” reticle offered by EOTech. It is a 68 MOA ring with a center 1 MOA dot that gives the user three functional aiming points. For close quarters (seven yards) Eotech recommends using the lower part of the ring. For 50-200 yards, the center circle. Overall, the size of the reticle is a huge asset. What is great about the sheer magnitude of this reticle is the ease in which it naturally finds its target. With the large field of view and a 68 MOA ring, the user can rapidly acquire the target and send a round downrange. Unmagnified, the reticle should have a 68” diameter at 100 yards, roughly the size of a 5’ 8” individual from head to toe.
The EXPS2: Our Most Popular EOTech Optic
The EXPS2 boasts all the features listed above found in the XPS2 with some considerable upgrades, making it our best-selling model! This EOTech optic rests lower on the rail. What this allows for is a lower, 1/3 co-witness with iron sights! Additionally, this model offers a quick detach system, allowing for it to be put on and taken off without tools. The user simply engages the lever on the side to lift the optic up and off the rail. The lever also locks into place, preventing it from flapping about as one moves and shoots. Overall, these features are incredibly helpful and add to the modularity of your carbine set-up!
Comparing the EOTech EXPS2 to the iconic 512
The 512 is one of the most popular EOTech optics, but there are a lot of things that make the EXPS2 preferable to it. While the very popular 512 uses cheaper AA’s opposed to the XPS2’s CR123’s, it has a lot of limitations of its own, making the 512 a preferable choice for smaller carbines. Most notably, the overall length of the optic. The 512 is a staggering 5.6” versus the XSP2’s 3.8”, a difference of almost two inches overall. On a smaller firearm, every inch of rail space matters, and so does every ounce. The addition of backup irons, a flashlight and pressure pad, grip, and other accessories are all things that can add some serious weight and take up a healthy amount of rail space on their own. While you only save 2.5 oz when selecting a 512, every ounce matter when you make a pound. At the end of the day, EOTech proudly markets the XPS2 as the shortest, smallest, and lightest optic they produce, making it a great contender for your next carbine or AR pistol build!
The XPS2, and all other Eotech HWS’s, have a controversial auto-off feature. If you turn the optic on with the “UP” arrow, the sight will automatically turn off after eight hours. If the “DOWN” arrow is used, the sight will turn off after four hours. That said, each time you interact with the arrow to adjust the brightness of the optic, that timer resets. Some disregard the EOTech due to this feature, as they do not wish for their optic to turn off without their express intent. However, with the more limited battery life that an EOTech has versus sights such as an Aimpoint, this feature ensures that your optic’s battery can last longer when not in use. Additionally, if one is actively using their firearm, it is highly unlikely that one will go over four hours without adjusting the brightness of the optic. The sight owned by the author, and the one that will be discussed in further detail below is the XPS2, which has a battery life of 1,000 continuous hours. The optic utilizes a CR123 battery and has 20 daylight settings. CR123’s aren’t the cheapest batteries and personally, I find the auto-off to be helpful. Just in case I forget to turn the optic off, it saves battery life.
The EOTech XPS2 is an incredible option for your firearm. The author personally has it mounted on an AR pistol built out for home defense, and it was picked for a few specific reasons. First, the field of view is incredible. As mentioned at the beginning of this post, the optic’s design was inspired by the HUD of fighter pilots and it really shows. With a large and clear window, and easy to use, and oversized controls, the user is more focused on the target and their environment than their equipment. When used right, an optic should almost blend into the background, as you acquire the reticle and rapidly engage the target. The large field of view paired with the large reticle makes this easy, as you can keep both eyes open as you are on the move. You’ll never spend time searching for the dot, a complaint heard frequently when discussing smaller optics.
Overall, there are pros and cons to everything. Understanding what they are, and how to combat them is critical to any gear you purchase. For easy access, rapid shooting, and a reliable optic, the EOTech optics line is a perfect choice for your next build.